Along look at the once migratory birds’ haven Pashan Lake would make one wonder if it is a football ground. It is only when one inches closer to it that they see water visible in patches. The deteriorating migratory pit stop seems to be attracting less variety of birds even as the season has aged quite abit. Experts say that the climate change coupled with water pollution and unwanted human intervention at the lake is to be blamed for the absence of birds.
“It bears a look of a big green ground with just little water inside thanks to the growth of hyacinth and pistia in the pond that has left very little space for the birds,” said DharmarajPatil, a citybased ornithologist, who recently took the bird walk in the city — a part of Pune Heritage festival.
He further added that the variety of the birds visiting the pond seems to have declined. An important marker of this falling numbers is the decline in Marsh Harrier, which was otherwise a regular visitor at the lake.
“We saw only one Marsh Harrier at the pond. Earlier, the place harboured this species in pairs. Just like the predator tiger is an indicator of health of the forest, this specie is an indicator of the wetland’s health. Reducing numbers therefore say a lot about the compromised eco-system in the area,” Patil said.
Along with Marsh Harrier, few other birds were not sighted as much as they should have. Patil said that the Wagtails, which used to come in flocks of hundreds, have not visited this year.
“There are five species of the group out of which one or two of the lot make for a common site. When we visited the spot on Saturday, we saw none. The Garganey ducks and Shovelers too have opted out from visiting this place,” Patil said.
He blames the destruction of lake’s ecosystem, pollution, climate change and human activities at the location for the reduction in footfalls. The sewage water entering the lake has goaded invasive species like hyacinth and pistia to take over the water body.
“This causes reduction in level of dissolved oxygen in the pond thus affecting the fish and other aquatic life which in turn causes the entire dependent eco-system to collapse,” Patil added.
Dr Satish Pande, a well-known environmentalist from the city and founder of Ela Foundation, which works for conservation, had similar things to say. “Birds like Purple Moorhen and two species of Jacanas breed and roost here. Therefore, preserving the lake is of utmost importance. It is time to think of the threats plaguing the pristine habitat and thoughtful intervention should take place here,” he said.
Mangesh Dighe, head of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) environment department, said that these things will be taken care of in the long run with cooperation at hand.
“Presently the civic body removes the weed to keep the lake (and other water bodies) clean. But, with the upcoming Japanese International Cooperation project, the problem of sewage will be taken care of which will help in restoring the ecosystem in time to come,” he said.
Patil, whose Saturday visit has led to enough concerns among environmentalists, feels this would not be enough. “The lake is being looked at as a single entity. It needs to be looked at holistically along with adjoining habitats and accordingly needs to be intervened,” he said.